Here are the 8 most common questions for new mothers we get — these are some of the answers from our in-house lactation consultant, Joanna
If you’re a new mummy, this won’t be a comprehensive guide, but will hopefully give you some guidance into this brand-new world! And of course, if you have any other questions, feel free to contact your healthcare provider!
Is it normal to only have a small amount of colostrum, the first milk that comes out of the breast?
Yes! Most mums start with just a few drops of colostrum that helps fight infection, which is very important for newborns. This milk can be bright yellow, as it is rich in beta carotene. Mums will produce a few drops of this, to a few teaspoons in the first few days. Over the next few days, as breastfeeding and pumping increase, this milk will turn into transitional milk and change colour.
By week 2, the milk will turn cloudy white as the body introduces water. Breastmilk is 87% water, so your baby gets enough water to stay hydrated.
You may continue seeing elements of colostrum for the first 2 weeks of breastfeeding, but this will go away as the breast milk evolves to produce the carbohydrates and other nutrients the baby needs.
Will I have enough milk for my baby?
A common worry for mothers, and a justified one. Most mothers do have enough milk to exclusively breastfeed their baby for however long they wish. In Singapore, mothers are recommended to breastfeed for at least six months if you are able to. However, in many parts of the world, mothers may breastfeed for as long as 3-5 years.
Starting breastfeeding immediately after delivery leads to success and the increased production of breast milk. In the first week, the volume of breast milk will increase to satisfy the baby’s hunger.
However, if you are concerned about your supply there are many other methods you can try to increase your milk supply.
Is breastfeeding painful?
Breastfeeding should not be painful, but there might be some discomfort while both you and your infant are getting used to it. When there is a proper latch, the baby’s tongue and gums will massage the milk ducts on the areola which will lead to proper breastfeeding and milk production. On the other hand, if your baby has an improper latch, on the nipple, for example, it will cause low milk production and pain.
If breastfeeding is painful for you, be sure to check with a lactation consultant or your doctor.
If I use a breast pump, how long can I store my breast milk?
- fridge: 5 days
- standard freezer: 3-6 months
- deep freezer: 6-12 months
When thawed, it is good for 24 hours. Most mums store the breast milk in storage bags, which are typically provided with the breast pump and have a place to write the time and date you pumped it.
How long should I breastfeed?
You should breastfeed as long as they feel comfortable with it. The recommendation is to breastfeed for at least 6 months, and if possible to continue until the baby is 2 years old.
You can introduce appropriate forms of solids to infants any time after 4 completed months, and before 6 months. This helps to introduce infants to new tastes, textures and the development of feeding skills. Milk should be the main source of nutrition for infants in the first year of life.
By 1 to 2 years of age, toddlers should be getting more and more of their calories from food rather than milk.
What do I need for breastfeeding?
You may wish to get some of the following items:
Nursing bra: the cups come with clips so you can breastfeed your baby without having to remove your bra. For a better fit, get the bra in your last trimester.
Breast pads: these are placed inside your bra to absorb leakage from your breasts, especially when they are full, or if you are expressing only from one side.
Nursing wear: these are designed with cleverly hidden openings to make it easier for you to breastfeed in public
Breast pump: they are available in single and double pumps which can be either hand-operated or electric. This is a good investment as you can express and freeze your excess milk and reheat it later. This is a necessity for mums returning to work.
Breast milk containers or bags: lets you store and freeze your milk
How does breastfeeding work while I’m at work?
You don’t have to stop breastfeeding just because you are returning to work! Your baby can be fully breastfed even while you’re at the office.
- Two weeks before your maternity leave ends, start expressing and storing your milk
- Feed your baby just before you go to work, and as soon as you return home.
- While at work, express and store your breast milk in the fridge (usually at lunch break and just before leaving)
Is it normal to not get my period while breastfeeding?
Having a baby causes many hormonal changes in your body, so it’s common to not have a menstrual cycle while breastfeeding. Over time, your body will return to a normal cycle. Everyone’s body is different, so there’s no set period of time which you’ll get your period again. However, a lot of mums get their period again around the same time they start introducing solids to their babies and sleeping more.